Prime Minister David Thompson (FP)????

The Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies is likely to attract more students from across the globe as a result of its BDS$8.5 million "new purpose-built, state-of-the-art", Faculty of Medical Sciences.??

Prime Minister David Thompson made this observation recently, as he addressed the opening of the facility. Its cost is being met from a commercial loan from the Barbados National Bank, guaranteed by the Government of Barbados.

According to Mr. Thompson, the development of the full MBBS Programme, through the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Cave Hill, was part of the Government of Barbados’ strategy to meet the demand for doctors and health care professionals in the region.

"In recent years, not only have prospective medical practitioners been knocking on the doors of the off-shore medical schools, but many have also been taking up opportunities to study in Cuba.

"It is hoped that the plan to produce an average of 100 doctors per year will go some way towards satisfying this demand," he stated.

The Prime Minister expressed the view that there would be significant cross- fertilisation between related disciplines in the Pure and Applied Sciences and Social Sciences Faculties, leading to a wider range of undergraduate studies and post-graduate research.

"More and more, students will be able to complete Diplomas, Masters Degrees and Doctorates in a range of specialities, including Family Medicine and Public Health. Our better educated young people will be exposed to a wider range of career options.

"Ultimately, more and better trained health care professionals should lead to a noticeable improvement in health care facilities, health care practices and general health in the region," Mr. Thompson remarked.

He also revealed that the second phase of the medical infrastructure would consist of clinical facilities and a modern medical library at Jemmotts Lane, across from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

"I am delighted that the Barbados Government has made the former Nightingale Hostel and the old Tercentenary Ward buildings available for this purpose. The restructuring will be done through a grant from the Government of Barbados, and this second phase is expected to be completed within a year," he noted.

The Prime Minister stressed that while detractors may want to interpret the opening of the new faculty as a move away from regional integration, and towards greater insularity, it was the opposite.

"We anticipate increasing numbers of citizens from the OECS and the wider CARICOM taking advantage of these opportunities. This is what integration is all about," he maintained.

He said that he also expected the new Faculty of Medical Sciences to help address "the devastating effect that chronic non-communicable diseases is having on the health and the economy of Barbados and other member states of CARICOM".

The new building provides over 17,500 sq. ft. of floor space for a lecture theatre to seat 220 persons; teaching laboratories; staff research laboratories; and other support facilities appropriate to the Basic Sciences part of a Medical Programme.

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